We have a very, very long way to go in this country on so many levels it is not even remotely funny. You would think that if someone who is doing something that is not predictable(and doing it masterful, mind you) that would be something that at the very least should and could be respected. But as is often the case, any opportunity for constructive discourse degenerates into the most inane, sophomoric banter that you will ever witness. This is further compounded by the fact that we are connected in a 24/365 web of realtime communication that in some ways weighs everyone’s words equally. That is a great and awful phenomenon all at once.

First and foremost congratulations to you Esperanza on your Grammy. I don’t want anything that I might posit in this post to overshadow that accomplishment. Well done, well-deserved and hopefully more people will become aware of your phenomenal talent. I remember when I first saw the video below a few years back… for a solid half hour I just kept repeating it. Of course this was after my other ritual which is when I hear something that really moves me I immediately turn it off and reflect on what just happened.

I don’t care if you don’t like what Esperanza does, you have to respect it and I mean you have to. Why? Well, let’s start with the obvious: Can you do it? I’m being serious: Can you play that much bass? Can you sing a beautiful melody hitting the notes spot on? Can you do both at the same time? After you’ve answered all of the above, can you write a song like that? Can you perform that song live? I could go on and on…

I’m not going to even waste time making comparisons between Esperanza and some of the other nominees in her category. I don’t care what genre of music you do, what you look like, how old you are or what type of octane gas you put in your car, all I care about when it comes to music is what you sound like and do you move me. This notion of “I’ve never heard of you, so you’re not valid” or one of my other favorites of the day that particularly raised my ire was the very enlightened person who commented that Esperanza’s success is because she is basically “racially ambiguous” like Alicia Keys. Right.

People please do me a favor, if you have not had any rigorous academic training in: sociology, political science, ethnic studies, genetics, media, popular culture and on and on and on sometimes the best thing for you to do is to be quiet because you sound(and look silly). Before I move forward I want to clarify that last point: I didn’t say that you had to attend any college or university to attain that knowledge as I often say the library is free and the internet often feels free. In other words you really do have to work very hard at being ignorant these days, but I see a lot of people are gainfully employed. I just wanted to insert that clarification before being branded an elitist.

This is more a call for respect than anything else. You don’t have to like an artist or a genre for that matter in order to respect them/it. But before you reach that level of enlightenment you have to respect the music first. Once you learn to respect the music, then when you hear music in whatever form it may be in you have to respect it. When I hear great music in whatever form it moves me… notice I said hear, music at it’s best is an aural experience. Sure, I like the visuals as much as anyone else but if it doesn’t sound good who cares what it looks like and the converse is true as well.

Let’s get back to celebrating music, let’s get back to celebrating mastery and musicians who truly do the phenomenal not just the popular. It is very easy for us to celebrate someone who hits a baseball 500 ft. or someone who has a 42″ inch vertical leap. When it comes to music many of us cannot discern between someone who has the musical equivalent of a 42″ vertical and someone who has a 24″ vertical. Those folks aren’t looking at the stats, they are looking at the popularity polls, just respect the talent and make sure you get out of the way when someone who has that type of vertical hits the baseline.

For historical context, check out of the earliest articles article on Esperanza when she was 17 heading to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.